What to know about moving out of hallsBy Sj.Cliff
For many university students, moving out of student accommodation after the first year is an exciting time. You have experienced independent living in student halls, but there is nothing quite like getting the keys to your first house and making it your own. Taking the leap from university accommodation to private renting can be bigger than expected and with added stress.
Here at the Student Guide, we have some helpful information on how to choose your house, who to live with, and little things you need to remember when making that transition.
Choose your place wisely
Choosing where to live is important because the location of your new home will have an effect on your whole routine. Often student housing is located close to your university or campus. Depending on who you’re moving in with, what your requirements are, and how flexible you are, there might not be much choice. Remember that for what you’re paying, you won’t be getting a swanky pad for you and your friends. Most student houses are simple terraces, often with some small rooms and basic furnishings – so compromise is important and you need to keep an open mind when viewing.
Compromising is key
This doesn’t mean you need to be short changed. Shop around, and unless you’ve left it until the last minute (you don’t want to be homeless), then don’t sign a contract for the first house you see. Student houses can vary in quality, and you don’t want to hear that your friends got a house on the same street as you for the same price but in a much better condition! As a general rule, the further away from the university you venture the bigger/nicer/cheaper the houses become. Remember that you trade this off for a daily commute. If you like your sleep, the extra 35 minutes on a bus every morning might be enough for you to put up with that ugly orange couch in the house two minutes away from campus.
Don’t rush into things
Choosing who you live with isn’t as easy as it seems. Before you rush into signing a contract and committing to a minimum of a year with these people – think hard. Private accommodation isn’t as flexible as your student halls, and if problems arise your landlord cannot settle personal disputes. You cannot up and leave if your living situation is no longer suiting you and you have a bust-up with your best friend, so the decision to live with somebody isn’t to be taken lightly. Whilst a student house gives you the privacy of your own home and an independence that halls do not allow, privacy amongst those living there is almost non-existent.
Stick with people similar to yourself
Try to move in with people who are similar to you, with similar routines and similar tolerance levels. Everybody is different, so you won’t end up living with people just like you – so remember to be conscientious and understanding. Just because you like to scrub the toilet after every use doesn’t mean everyone will adopt your level of cleanliness. But you can at least make your housemate choices wisely to make daily life easier. A student nurse often working night shifts is likely to become frustrated with a housemate who spends the daytime playing loud music.
Consider the situation first
Think hard about who you plan to move in with, and decide if you truly can handle any issues that may arise. Can you really put up with your friends habit to always leave the milk out? Can you truly cope with living with somebody you already share all the same lectures with? Is moving in with your love interest – even if you’re with other friends – really a good idea? The answers are up to you, but many students will tell you first hand that when friendships go sour over chores and habits, it can be extremely unpleasant and make your brand new home a miserable place. Our advice would be to sit down with your potential housemates and discuss these issues, iron out any potential clashes and set some boundaries before signing your name on the dotted line.
Be respectful of neighbours
When you move off campus and into a house, you are no longer in your university bubble. It’s likely that you’ll be in a student-dominated area, but this isn’t always the case. Your neighbours may be families with young children, professional couples working long days, or even OAP’s who have lived there since before you were born. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your new pad, but be respectful of those who live around you. You don’t want to be responsible for complaints on the street. Clean up after yourselves and keep music and noise to a respectable volume during the evening. Most people don’t mind students living nearby, and expect to hear them – but there is a line you can easily cross. A polite thing to do is to introduce yourself to your neighbours quite soon after you move in and pre-warn them of any parties. Chances are they won’t mind and they will appreciate your forewarning.
Don't forget the basics
Living in a student house can feel like luxury after being holed up in an often cramped room in halls. You finally have a sofa to lounge on after a long day and a fridge you don’t have to share with 15 other people. But it also comes with its own share of responsibilities. There’s no cleaner to keep the floors mopped, you have to remember to put your bins out on collection day and you’ll have to organise your own house and contents insurance. It's easy to forget things like this in the rush of excitement that comes with moving.
The bills won’t pay themselves
Unless you have a deal where bills are included with your rent, these are up to you to pay. Sometimes this is done via a meter system, where you top up at local newsagents or supermarket and pay by usage. If you are not on a meter, you will pay your gas and electric by bills – monthly or quarterly. In this case, you will have to divide the bills up amongst yourselves and pay it in an appropriate time. It is up to you to do this, not your landlords or your parents! Don’t forget that you may also have a water bill. Ensure that you get all the relevant information off your landlord before moving in.
Internet usually isn’t included
Again, unless your landlord includes this in the price of your rent (lucky you!), you will have to seek out an internet service provider. Piggybacking on a nearby open connection is neither safe nor ethical! Bite the bullet and fork out. Ring around the big providers and see who can offer you the best deal. Splitting it between your housemates means it isn’t usually a huge expense, but remember that this will also be a contract. Don’t sign anything without reading it – you don’t want to be paying for a year longer than you need to just because you neglected the small print.
Don’t forget the TV License
Chances are you won’t be able to afford SKY TV, but that doesn’t mean TV is free. If you are watching live TV on any device (that means live streaming on your computer too), or recorded TV, you have to hold a TV license. The only time you are exempt from a TV license is if you are only watching shows that have already been broadcasted – such as on 4OD or BBC iPlayer. You can pay all at once, or spread it over quarterly installments. If you move out of your accommodation in the summer, you can apply for a refund for the time you didn’t use it, which is an added bonus. Do not risk watching without one – if caught you could end up with a hefty fine of £1000.
After all of that, relax and enjoy your new place. Moving into a house is an exciting time with heaps of benefits. Kick back, pop the kettle on and enjoy your second year at university!